This comprehensive ceremonial cacao guide covers everything you need to know about this ancient and sacred elixir. It not only provides insights into the rich history and significance of single-ingredient raw cacao but also my trusted ceremonial cacao recipe including many flavoring options.
What is a cacao ceremony?
A cacao ceremony is a spiritual and gathering where ceremonial-grade cacao is used as a tool for healing, introspection, and connection. Participants come together to drink a specially prepared cacao elixir.
The ceremony is typically guided by a facilitator, spiritual person, or shaman, who sets the intention and creates a sacred space for the participants. During the ceremony, the cacao is believed to open the heart, enhance emotional awareness, and facilitate a deeper connection with oneself and others.
Participants typically engage in meditation, breathwork, chanting, dancing, or sharing circles as part of the ceremony. It is seen as a way to honor the spirit of cacao and its ancestral roots while fostering a sense of community and inner transformation.
What is ceremonial-grade cacao?
Ceremonial cacao is made with a specific type of single-ingredient raw cacao that is used in ceremonies or sacred practices, often associated with spiritual and healing rituals. It’s been used for centuries by indigenous peoples like the Maya and Aztecs, who believed it to be a bridge between the earthly and the divine.
To be ceremonial-grade, the single-ingredient cacao beans have to be:
- Minimal processed, ensuring their high quality and purity
- Ethically sourced from small family farms practicing regenerative and organic agroforestry
- Free from additives
How is cacao paste made?
Ceremonial cacao is usually sold as pure cacao-bean paste in blocks or discs. It’s crafted through bean fermentation, light heating, hand-peeling, and grinding on a heated mill (often a traditional stone mill). This 100% organic cacao retains its natural fat, cacao butter, with minimal processing at low temperatures without conching and tempering to preserve its health benefits.
Criollo nativo cacao
A preferred choice for cacao ceremonies is 100% organic Criollo nativo from Peru. One of the oldest and most cherished cacao varieties, these beans are prized for their intricate, floral, fruity, and mildly spicy flavors, boasting low bitterness and a creamy texture. Criollo beans also have the highest theobromine density, a key factor in cacao’s ability to induce feelings of well-being, alertness, and heart-opening sensations.
- Raw cacao – You’ll need 1 to 2 ounces (28 to 56 grams) of ceremonial cacao for a single serving, depending on the intensity you’re after.
- Warm water and/or plant-based milk – Use hot water only to create a pure ceremonial drink but you can also add plant-based options such as almond, coconut, soy, macadamia, or oat milk.
- Sweeteners – Balance the bitterness with natural sweeteners like raw honey, pure maple syrup, Medjool dates, or agave nectar.
- Spices – Add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom for warm, aromatic notes. Cayenne pepper or sea salt can provide other flavor dimensions.
- Low heat: It is important to maintain low heat and avoid boiling the cacao, as excessive heat alters its molecular structure and impacts the body’s ability to absorb its nutrients effectively.
- High-speed blender: It makes the rich cacao incredibly smooth and creamy.
- Keep it hot: Use a thermos to keep the cacao hot until the ceremony.
How to do a ceremony
The procedure of a cacao ceremony varies depending on the facilitator, tradition, or intention but you can follow some or all of the steps below:
- Setting intentions: Begin by setting clear and mindful intentions and desired outcomes for the ceremony.
- Preparation: Prepare the cacao elixir following the recipe below.
- Blessing the cacao: Take a moment to offer gratitude and blessings to the cacao, honoring its spirit and the ancient traditions associated with it.
- Drinking the cacao: Slowly and mindfully drink the cacao. Pay attention to the flavors and sensations.
- Guided meditation or breathwork: These practices help participants to deepen their connection with the cacao and themselves.
- Sharing circle: After the meditation or heart-opening practices, participants may gather in a sharing circle to express their experiences and insights during the ceremony.
While ceremonial cacao is safe for most people, it is not recommended to drink it daily due to its potent effects.
Ceremonial cacao can evoke various feelings and experiences, such as heart-opening, euphoria, relaxation, mindfulness, emotional awareness, connection, spiritual insights, and grounding.
- 1 ounce ceremonial-grade cacao paste Peruvian criollo nativo cacao
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- If you have whole cacao paste or discs, break them into smaller pieces or grind them into a coarse paste using a mortar and pestle or a grinder. This step helps the cacao dissolve more easily in the hot water.1 ounce ceremonial-grade cacao paste
- Warm 1/2 cup hot water and 1/2 cup almond milk to a temperature that is not boiling but hot enough to melt the cacao. Around 160-180°F (71-82°C) is a good range. Boiling water can scorch the cacao and affect its flavor.1/2 cup hot water, 1/2 cup almond milk
- Place 1 ounce ceremonial-grade cacao paste into a ceremonial cup or bowl. Slowly pour the hot water over the cacao.
- Vigorously mix the cacao, milk, and water together with a small whisk or ceremonial utensil.
- Add 1 tsp maple syrup 1 pinch cayenne pepper, 1 pinch sea salt, and 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon to enhance the flavor. These additions are optional and can vary depending on the type of ceremony you're conducting.1/8 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 pinch cayenne pepper, 1 pinch sea salt, 1 tsp maple syrup
- Enjoy your ceremonial cacao mindfully, sipping slowly, and savoring the flavor and aroma.